Covid-19 stops at hospital’s door

False Bay Hospital in Fish Hoek.

False Bay Hospital is screening hospital staff and patients before they enter the hospital to minimise the risk of Covid-19 infection.

The virus, which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, poses the greatest risk to people over 70, and those with chronic illness and compromised immune systems.

The hospital’s manager for medical services, Dr Wendy Waddington, says patients and staff are being asked whether they have had close contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19; whether they travelled recently to a high-risk area outside the country and whether they have been to a health facility where the Covid-19 patients are being treated.

Anyone answering yes to any of the questions will be directed to a separate part of the hospital where steps will be taken to confirm infection.

Anyone with upper respiratory symptoms such as a cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and a fever will be asked the same questions. If they do not fit the criteria, they will not be tested for Covid-19.

Testing is free if arranged through the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) hotline or a provincial Department of Health facility, but only patients who fit the criteria would be tested, said Dr Waddington.

Patients who suspect they have the virus should not go to the pharmacy, hospital, doctor or clinic.

Instead, Dr Waddington said, they should call the NICD hotline at 0800 029 999 during office hours, Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm, or the hospital, at 021 782 1121, and ask for herself or Sister Danielle Mentor.

Diagnosed patients will be asked to self isolate themselves until they are symptom free and further testing has been done to confirm the results are negative.

Dr Waddington said testing could be done in private using a throat swab and took 24-hours to process.

Self isolation means you can’t leave your property or have contact with people outside the premises.

Anyone testing positive for Covid-19 will be asked for a full list of anyone they have had face-to-face contact with or been in a closed space with, including those living or working in their household, doctors or nurses who treated them, passengers who sat near them on a flight and the crew from that flight.

Hospital patients with flu-like symptoms who have travelled to a high-risk area or who have had close contact with a confirmed or suspected case are asked to send a friend or relative to the hospital to fetch their chronic medication.

Dr Waddington urged patients not to panic and said it was safe to collect medicine and attend scheduled appointments at the hospital.

BLOB The decision to close schools in response to the Covid-19 outbreak was met with relief and trepidation in the far south.

Fish Hoek High School principal Gavin Fish said he was very worried about the spread of the virus and although the school remained open on Monday and Tuesday he had advised parents to keep their children at home.

“This is a time for cool minds and warm hearts. We are deeply concerned for the well-being of all friends and family, with that said we are striving to ensure that children will not be compromised academically,” he said.

Simon’s Town School principal Jean Human, said she was relieved about the decision and would rather err on the side of caution.

At the time of going to print the Echo had not received comment from other far south schools.